When it comes to scheduling, the Mondavi Center benefits from being at the right place at the right time.
Plenty of examples of perfect placement can be seen in the performing arts center’s 2014-15 schedule. Officially released today, that events calendar also shows off the center’s international reputation.
As executive director Don Roth has heard repeatedly, everybody wants to play at the Mondavi – after they figure out its location.
“It’s like (conductor) Charles Dutoit said, ‘If you’re going to tour the West Coast, you’ve got to go to Mondavi Center,’ ” Roth said. “It’s not hard for us to get an artist back once they’ve been here. The first time, they don’t even know where Davis is.
“It’s a beautiful hall,” he added, noting Jackson Hall’s acclaimed acoustics as well as its intimate feel. “People like (pianist) Lang Lang want to come back again and again. That works really well for us.”
Lang Lang (March 25, 2015) will be among the returning superstars bringing world-class entertainment to Jackson Hall this upcoming season. After sold-out Mondavi shows, violinist Itzhak Perlman is back Jan. 17. A 2013 Mondavi hit, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (Jan. 28) will undoubtedly pack a full house.
The globe-trotting schedule also features several Mondavi debuts including Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso on opening night, Sept. 18. Under the baton of ever-popular Michael Tilson Thomas, the London Symphony Orchestra plays Jackson Hall for the first time March 21, with brilliant pianist Yuja Wang performing Shostakovich. Dutoit conducts Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in its Mondavi debut Feb. 13.
New subscriptions go on sale online at midnight today. The center’s box office will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday to handle orders. In addition, a booth will be set up outside the performing arts center Saturday during UC Davis’ 100th annual Picnic Day. This year’s centennial celebration is expected to draw thousands of visitors to campus.
Deadline for season subscribers to renew is May 31. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 15.
Marketing director Rob Tocalino expects many people to stop by the center Saturday and check out the new schedule. Anticipation has been building all week, especially among regular subscribers, he said.
“Come April 1 every year, we start getting a lot of requests for details about the upcoming season from our audiences,” Tocalino said. “It is such a privilege to work in an environment where people are excited to support the arts, where audiences are really grateful for the experiences they have and are eager to take next year’s subscription journey with us.”
Overall, the season features 88 performances by 60 artists or ensembles with a few more dates to be added later as contracts are completed.
The calendar features familiar names: Think humorist David Sedaris on Nov. 16, Dr. John & the Nite Trippers on Dec. 3, or Arlo Guthrie (celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Alice’s Restaurant”) on April 16, 2015.
But the season also has real rarities, including the U.S. premiere Oct. 24 of Akram Khan Company’s modern dance theater piece “iTMOi (In The Mind of Igor),” a thought-provoking exploration of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” (A scene is featured on the official subscription brochure.)
“(This season) brings to our region some of the most talented and interesting artists working today,” Roth said. “These captivating performers and innovative thinkers expand and redefine artistic excellence, question conventional wisdom and bend Mondavi Center traditional genres.
“We believe that this diverse gathering of creativity from around the globe reflects the exciting spirit of inquiry and discovery that we find all around us on the UC Davis campus.”
Among the other celebrated Mondavi debuts: a one-man celebration of playwright Harold Pinter by actor Julian Sands, directed by John Malkovich (March 14-15); former New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan in “Restless Creature,” a set of four duets with top male dancer-choreographers (Jan. 24); and “EarFilms” (March 19-21), an all-audio sensory sensation that audiences experience blindfolded.
Acclaimed pianist Jeremy Denk (Nov. 5) returns for a recital featuring Schubert, Schumann and a new work by Brad Mehldau, who brings his own jazz trio to Mondavi on Dec. 4. Grammy-winning baritone Gregory Porter (Jan. 19) adds more spice to a rich musical menu.
Being willing to bend a little to tour logistics helps seal some engagements. That brings beloved Brazilian singer Veloso, the “Father of Tropicalia,” to open the season Sept. 18, a little earlier than the Mondavi’s traditional mid-October kickoffs.
“That’s when he was available,” Roth said. “We’ve been trying to get him for four years.”
Likewise, father-son jazz greats Ellis and Delfeayo Marsalis will perform Sept. 19 at Mondavi, two nights before their featured concert at the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival. Patriarch of a family of musical masters, pianist Ellis Marsalis has said this will be his last tour.
Big orchestras and classical superstars form the backbone of Mondavi’s concert calendar and subscription sales, with 14 artists representing classical music. In addition to Suisse Romande and the London Symphony Orchestra, the five-concert Western Health Advantage Orchestra Series features the San Francisco Symphony (Oct. 25), Czech Philharmonic (Nov. 8, with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet) and Seoul Philharmonic (April 17, 2015).
Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.